The Irish Times November 2, 1996,SECTION: SPORT; Pg. Supplement Page 3
HEADLINE: Home sweat home
BYLINE: By DYLAN MORAN
THROUGH the stupendous High Street we walked on the path conveniently adjacent to the unique road and turned into the superb, naturally lit estate agents office. Somebody sneezed, and when we turned around from saying "bless you"all the roulette wheels had become desks. Above everyone there hovered a smile as reassuring as a Jack 'o' Lantern. When 12 people salivate together, itsoundslike the tide coming in.
My girlfriend is a wise and beautiful human being - that is why they all looked at me. I give out a visible aura of financial cretinism. I felt the way a chicken must feel when he gets drunk and falls down the fox hole. We had come to speak about buying a house. More precisely, we had come to ask about the possibility of us ever being eligible to enter the market, if we could prove we owned our underwear and everything.
All of the desks came forward. A man with no whites in his eyes said:
"Hello, children. My name is Michael. I can help you."
V. explained our situation. "We'd like to get somewhere with a garden, or near the river."
"Yes," said Michael looking at me as I rocked back and forth murmuring "Home, home, home".
"Take a look at these," Michael purred.
There are several basic types of dwelling.
1. Mews - a mews is an extremely small space in which you sit and mews as to why you let the man with the shiny face walk away with Pounds 110,000 that you never had.
2. New development - a ware house with a buzzer.
3. Old development - a warehouse with a knocker. And no roof.
4. Lower Ground Floor - this means a basement.
5. Basement - you are now living in a well.
THEN there are the much more expensive kinds. Such as:
1. Studios - they have big windows, stripped floors and Americans standing around discussing the political implications of ballet.
2. Lofts - these have been converted meaning they took out the sewing machines when child labour became illegal. People then fill these large spaces with interesting conversation pieces found in markets, such as old
3. Semi detached - luckily you are connected to only one set of neighbours.But these people are always hired by the council to argue at stadium decibel level from midnight to 7 a.m.
THE kind of place you live in pulses a huge current into your sea of consciousness; what I'm saying is that, statistically, you are far more likely to shout at the nine o'clock news if you cook and pee in the same room. I've done the bedsit thing. It was a very poetic chapter of my youth. I didn't die, but I nearly did, which gives me the edge if I want to talk about it. I ran out of money and came up with the quite brilliant survival plan of eating raw carrots for four days.
I couldn't call my family since that would mean leaving the room and meeting the landlady. The landlady, a striking white haired woman, had beguiling eccentricities, such as scraping kitchen knives against your door at 3 a.m. I didn't need or want for anything else anyway, the hallucinations produced by my stomach digesting itself kept me entertained for hours on end. When I did finally get home, I wasn't let out for a year.
I did the flat share thing, which is fine, if you like four hour conversations about who should get the milk. Knowing you can't walk around naked and sing along with Val Doonican on the radio gets to you eventually.
Buying somewhere, you may be offered a freehold or a leasehold. A leasehold means a time limit - you may own it for as long as 100 years or only 15 minutes, depending on the age and scruples of the vendor. Freehold usually runs to about 1,000 years, by which time you should have paid off a good part of the interest on the original borrowing.
House prices, like temperature settings on showers, have only two bands:
(a)too much, and (b) Ojesusstopitnow.
SOMETIMES a building is under council protection, meaning there is a limit to the number of lozenge shaped windows and roof toilets you can install. The buildings are preserved for historical reasons. "Tobias Burlington
Smyth(1801-1899) patented the electric winnowing spool here ... the colonnades in the hall were erected by Jessop Chingley (1801-1923). The inscriptions at the base, a farrago of Latin and Cornish, state that over the course of 40 years of cohabitation Burlington Smythe always, chewed with his mouth open.
These types of places tend to be a bit out of your price range. Trying to find a figure to impress the banks means accounting. Our accounts always look like this:
IN: Pounds 6,000 (less tax, insurance, rates and other charges) -Pounds18.00two florins, one earring, a book of Medieval herbal cures(bequeathed).
OUT: Rent Pounds 2,000, bills Pounds 1,500, food/clothes etc Pounds1,300,misc. living expenses Pounds 314,000.
If we sold everything we have, and didn't spend any money over the next year, we might have enough money to bribe debt collectors so they wouldn't rebreak our broken bones provided they would accept payment in the form of a few packets of Rancheros.
Now before us we have a small forest's worth of paper proclaiming the superiority of every bolt hole, dive and funked out fourth floor closet in London. If you rent, you spoon feed your future to an insatiable landlord; if you buy, you spend all day rehearsing pleas to the bailiffs. You have to pay lawyers, life insurers, the council, service charges and the wandering minstrel house buyers triangle band. There's rent, street tax and all the money you need for Windowlene. It's all impossible, but you have to do it. Us? We're going to a hotel.
Scotland on Sunday, August 16, 1998
Do or Die
DYLAN Moran isstanding outside a pub in Kilkenny, waiting for his wife. This entails gazing atevery female figure walking up the street, declaring "ah, that'sher", then, when they get to about 15 yards away realising it isn't:"No. I'm blind."
Dylan Moran carriesaround this air of intangible strangeness, of unpredictability. It's what makeshis stand-up shows a calculated risk, veering from rambling, shamblingdigressions, to moments of inspired insight, occasionally within the samesentence.
The previousevening, an eagerly-anticipated performance at the Kilkenny comedy festival inthe Irish town's largest venue, had been a characteristic battle againstself-inflicted adversity. He'd turned up 45 minutes late (sleeping in after anafternoon in the pub), to face an aggrieved audience. For a while he hadteetered on the edge of disaster, before dragging himself back, hitting a rolland getting away with, well a draw at least. On stage at times he looked almostin pain grasping for the right word, the right combinations, the right gesturesWhen they came, the relief was palpable "I find it a struggle at times” hesays. "You really have to fight to not let yourself be bepetrified by the whole thing. That talent, to not be dead." A couple ofyears ago, Moran, all Perrier Award marketable image, could, had hewanted, have stepped up into the premier leagueof stand-ups, with the lucrative theatre tours the West End runs and the TVappearances All he needed to do was tighten up his sets, get serious and builda career Never really an option "No, I'm in control because I don't carethat much," he says "I've never been that ambitious. I can't livelike that, I'm not prepared to. I mean that. I feel like an old horsesometimes; I'm hot stuff now and then. But I couldn't do that, or I could, butvery badly. I couldn't sustain it. To say the same words every night is atotally different set of skills from the ones I have. The deadening thing isthat sense of 'how can I bear to say that again?'"
Instead he flirtswith disaster on a nightly basis, following his flights of fancy onto planeswhere his audience can always follow. From time to time he dies."Obviously. Whenever I died it was due to my bloody-mindedness and acertain amount of kamikaze instinct. But the great thing that staves offboredom is that it is mysterious Recently I've had this phrase in my head andpissed myself laughing every time I thought about it. Somebody wastalking about going to see their doctor and asking about a diet, and being toldto subsist on fronds. I can't get that image out of my mind, this image of aman eating fronds. I can't tell you where that comes from." A kind ofgifted madness perhaps some psychological tripwire that turns a word likefronds into comedy? "Well, the really good people are freaks. I'm not afreak. I can always come back to myself. It's so singular in every sense.You're on your own, you've created it, you are the whole show. It's me, meme all the time, which is an odd position to be in."
Moran's talent isan instinctive understanding of the essential comedy in certain words, in usingthe felicitous phrase that tips a situation over into the absurd . "A lotof it's about it’s about being accurate," he says. "That's the graftpart putting in the colour, the identity of the thing. That's the work. Youhave to fill in those details, the bits that please you. You'reworking in a very small area on a very small surface. It's a lyric thing,like song writing or poetry, you don't have the scope to go in-depth , it's aget-in-get-out thing, fast" For a comedian whose success has come fromcreating his own world, which obeys few of the rules of the real one, youwouldn't expect him to excel in a sitcom, to dance to another writer'stune . Perversely, in Simon Nye's misanthropic TV comedy How Do You Want Me heexcelled, using his own world-weariness to flesh out Nye's writing with anarray of sighs and gestures. "It was an experiment," he says."I'd never acted before. You'll enjoy anything where you're doing so muchlearning on the hoof. I've written my own sitcom , it's called Black Books,about this guy who owns a bookshop. I say I've written it, but, butthere's a certain amount of resistance about actually saying yes I'm doinga sitcom. It's not really writing , it's just assailing a genre."Eddie Izzard is the classic example of a stand -up comedian demonstrating the potential disasters awaiting someone trying their hand at thehalf-hour television sitcom. "There are all sorts of traps,"acknowledges. "But cliché is a neutral thing. It's not necessarily bad.Cliché is cliché for a reason. It has value. What neuters a cliché is the factthat it washes over you if the thing is tired. But there's no point runningaway from a stock situation because they matter, it's just how you treatthem." Writing a sitcom inevitably meant corralling Moran’s moreextravagant flourishes into a more disciplined form.